In honor of Alexander’s Graham Bell’s 164th birthday this week, we look back on how much telecommunications have advanced since U.S Patent No. 174,465 was filed in 1876. From the early days of experimenting with transmitting the human voice by telegraph to our increasing reliance on smartphones and mobile networks, there is no disputing that we have come a long, long way.
We wouldn’t have benefited from this amazing technological progression if it wasn’t for an amazing array of inventors, such as Bell, who envisioned new tools for communication. So today, we celebrate the remarkable contributions of Alexander Graham Bell and others who laid the foundation for many of the technologies that we use each and every day.
Alexander Graham Bell
After years of experimenting with sound and working on the development of the harmonic telegraph, Alexander Graham Bell filed the patent for the first telephone design on March 7, 1876. He continued to develop his invention while also demonstrating it to the scientific community and the public. Through these efforts, he initiated widespread acceptance of the telephone and helped launch the Bell Telephone Company in 1877.
While Bell was working on the telephone, inventor Tivadar Puskas was busy working on the telegraph exchange. After sharing his ideas with Thomas Edison and learning of Bell’s invention of the telephone, Puskas developed the idea of a telephone exchange. In 1879, he created the first telephone exchange in Paris. Less than 10 years later, he introduced the multiplex switchboard and subsequently introduced the first “telephone news service” – a forerunner of the radio.
Long before cell phones, there were Walkie-Talkies. This early form of wireless telecommunications was pioneered by Al Gross. His fascination with radio began at an early age, and by the time he was 12, he was patching equipment from junkyards together to create radios. At the age of 20, he had invented and patented the Walkie-Talkie, which was quickly adapted for use during World War II. After the war, he continued to invent a variety of two-way radios for personal use, and even adapted his radios for cordless remote telephonic signaling in 1949. Among his inventions are the citizens’ band radio, the telephone pager and the cordless telephone.
As a former VP for Motorola, Martin Cooper led the team that developed the handheld mobile phone. It was Cooper’s vision to create a mobile phone that worked outside a car. In 1973, Cooper made the first mobile phone call from a handheld cell phone before going to a press conference in New York City. He frequently stated that his inspiration for the mobile phone was derived from watching Captain Kirk from Star Trek.
Originally published Mar 02, 2011, updated Aug 07, 2020